28 September 2011

New approach to mandating open access

A world-renowned University introduces a new development on the path towards open access, and aims to put pressure on publishers.

Princeton University has introduced a new policy that requires their researchers to retain some rights in their scholarly outputs, rather than assigning all copyright to journal publishers. The aim is to widen access to the University’s research outputs. Under the new policy, Faculty must grant the University a licence to use their publications for non-commercial purposes, including posting online. In order for them to grant this licence, authors would need to ensure there is provision for this in their copyright agreement.

See further comment in The Conversation report , headlined ‘Princeton bans academics from handing all copyright to journal publishers.’

Unlike most institutional mandates on open access, Princeton do not require their academics to post their articles to a University repository – in fact they do not currently have one. Instead they see this as a voluntary but logical extension of their policy, allowing academics to choose where they put their work as appropriate to their discipline.

With the weight of this University’s policy in place, it will be interesting to see if large publishers will bend their policies to fit. There is provision in the policy to obtain a waiver so in practice many copyright transfers will continue as before. However, this kind of mandate plants the idea that open access should be the norm, rather than at the will of publishers.

Publishers acting as barriers to research

In a recent piece in the Guardian, George Monbiat took on academic publishers and the business models that prevent access for many to scholarly publications. Ben Goldacre takes up the story a few days later in similar hard-hitting style.

Academic publishers make Murdoch look like a socialist
Academic publishers run a guarded knowledge economy

16 September 2011

Increasing access to outputs of publicly funded research

Science minister David Willetts has announced that the UK Government is setting up an independent working group to look at how UK-funded research findings can be made more widely available. This follows the transparency agenda, which should apply to published research "to ensure that people are given the opportunity to know more about the projects that government funds".

The news has been welcomed by RCUK, saying "this new working group will help in the endeavour to make publicly funded research available to the public now and remain accessible for future generations.”

The InPharm.com portal comments that David Willetts is unhappy about published data resulting from publicly-funded research projects sitting "behind a pay wall".

It is interesting to see open access objectives appearing prominently on the Government's agenda.